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Legal Actions for Dog Bites

Donald Singleton
February 15, 2022

Legal Actions for Dog Bites

Dog bites are rare, but they do happen from time to time. It’s important to be safe around dogs and not to approach an unfamiliar one, as dog bites can be fatal, but sometimes encounters with dogs are unavoidable. They can attack without provocation, leaving you or your family with injuries. Of course, we always can talk about an unprovoked attack.

Any physical injury that requires multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery is considered a severe injury, according to the law.

When dog bites occur, it can affect the quality of life of your family. When this happens, you deserve fair compensation. Here’s what to do in the event you or a family member is bitten by a dog.

Dog Owners’ Liability for Bites and Other Injuries

Dog owners have a legal responsibility to prevent their pets from injuring people or causing private property damage. So when a dog hurts someone, the owner may have to reimburse the victim for medical expenses, time lost from work, and pain and suffering. The dog owner’s liability insurance (usually a homeowners’ or renters’ policy) may cover the cost, even if the injury happens off the owner’s private property.

Understanding Your Options If You Are Bitten Or Injured By A Dog

If you are bitten or injured by a dog, no matter how minor or severe the injuries, the owner of the dog is most likely liable for what happened. This means that you have the right to pursue legal action and compensation for your injuries.

However, it ultimately depends on the laws in your state whether the owner of the dog will be held liable for the bite. The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an attorney who is experienced with dog bite claims.

If you need legal assistance (usually for free), your attorney will evaluate your case and advise you whether to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit. Being bitten by a dog can also be stressful, so it is beneficial to have an experienced dog bites attorney on your side.

Understanding Civil Liability

If one (or more) of the following is true, a dog owner may be liable in a civil lawsuit for a bite or other type of injury caused by the domestic animals:

  • There is a dog-biting statute. Dog bites are covered by strict liability laws in many states, making owners responsible for dog bites as well as other injuries regardless of whether the dog is careless or has a history of injuries.
  • The owner of the dog knew the dog was prone to causing this kind of injury, so the victim was able to prove that in court. Dog owners might be held liable for injuries in states without strict liability dog-bite laws if they violate the so-called “one-bite rule”, whereby owners are liable for injuries if they were aware or should have been aware that their dogs were likely to hurt someone.
  • If the injured person can prove the dog owner violated a local leash law or left a gate open and allowed the dog to run out and bite the mailman, then the owner is liable for the injury.
  • A dog owner who can prove one of the legal defenses for a dog bite or other injury may escape some or all of their responsibility for the victim’s injuries. In states that have strict liability dog bite statutes, the laws don’t apply if the bite occurred as a result of the victim’s provocation or trespassing. A dog bite victim who is partly at fault is generally liable to a lesser extent.

What To Do When a Dog Has Hurt You

  1. Try to identify the dog that bit you and the dog’s owner. Finding out who is liable for your injury is the most important part of a personal injury claim. Your attorney needs to know where to get all of the necessary information from.
  2. Get medical attention as soon as possible. It’s important because you want to prevent even more serious complications like infection. As soon as you get bit, you should head over to the emergency room to be seen by a medical provider.
  3. Call 311 and report the bite incident to the police. Make sure that you document everything on the call, including the name of the person you spoke to. Also, contact animal control, and they will determine what is best to do with the dog.
  4. Take pictures of your injuries immediately, and also take photos periodically as your injuries are healing. You want to make sure that you document as much as possible for your attorney.
  5. Also, if possible, take photos of the animal that bit you and the location of the animal if it doesn’t put you in danger of the dog again.
  6. Document any wages that you lose from work as a result of your dog bite injury. You’ll need to add this to your claim and request compensation.
  7. Make sure that you obtain an experienced Georgia attorney soon after your injury. You want to ask friends and family first if they have any referrals for a personal injury attorney. If not, go on a site that reviews personal injury attorneys in your area and see what people are saying. It’s likely that if many people have a great experience with the attorney, you will as well.
  8. An animal control officer’s investigation may make it easier to recover punitive damages if the animal is determined to be dangerous.

FAQs About Legal Actions for Dog Bites

When Can You Sue If You Are Bitten Or Injured By A Dog?

In the United States, an estimated 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Of those, an estimated 800,000 bites require treatment. We love dogs. After all, they provide us with a form of companionship like no other.

Although we understand our pets, we can’t predict the behavior of strange dogs, and bites do happen. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you’re probably wondering whether you should file a bite lawsuit. It’s important for you to understand your legal options.

Do I Need a Lawsuit After a Dog Bite?

In many cases, dog bite victims have difficulty deciding whether or not to pursue high compensation from the dog’s owner. A severe dog bite generally results in significant damages including medical bills, lost wages, and maybe even permanent scarring. In such a case, it is usually worth taking legal action.

In addition to compensation for physical injuries, you can also recover compensation if the dog bit you caused mental or emotional distress. A lawyer will likely be able to assist you in filing a legal claim against the owner’s insurance company since most homeowner policies cover dog bites.

However, you may need to sue if you and your attorney are unable to reach an agreement with the insurance company through negotiations.

Speaking With a Dog Bites Lawyer

If you’ve been injured by someone else’s dog or you own the animal, you may want to speak with an attorney to determine how local laws apply in your particular situation and how you can proceed. A dog law attorney may be able to help you avoid a bad outcome – like having your dog seized and put down – if authorities consider your dog dangerous. It would be wise to consult a criminal defense lawyer if you believe your dog seriously injured or killed someone.

Singleton Law Firm LLC, we take each and every dog bite very seriously. Even the smallest bite can have a big impact. We’ll investigate and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.

Donald Singleton

Donald Singleton

Author

A Georgia native, Don founded Singleton Law Firm in 1999 as a continuation of his lifetime commitment to serving his state and community. He has concentrated his trial practice to representing victims of serious injury and wrongful death arising out of trucking, car, bus and motorcycle accidents, premises liability and a wide variety of other causes.

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